I thought we were past this.


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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What SuperBidi said. I'm in the 'let to-hit and damage come from the character' crowd. For me, magic should be about things that really can't be matched with skill and experience, like making a weapon capable of hitting incorporeal foes, or dealing extra elemental damage, or put on a de-buff on a critical hit.

Fortunately, ABP is right in the core rulebook. And as much as I loathe 1/day magic items, if you could use them more often, then those would become the new 'must have' items.

But yeah, magic items should mostly be side-grades to things a PC can do as part of their class identity, or maybe give a watered-down version of a class' thing to people who won't use archetypes for that. And yes, items that simulate skill feats can be cool, but those would need to be limited-uses-per-day, or they would make skill feats obsolete.


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I do encourage groups that find this to be an issue to try ABP. Getting items offer a new and fun vibe. Currently not a dealbreaker like free archetype, at least for me.

I’ve played in several games with ABP but haven’t used it as GM yet. Usually too many newbies in my games for me to try. Hopefully someday though since I want to experience it from the GM perspective.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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Squiggit wrote:
Lucas Yew wrote:
I'll most likely never understand those "majority" in that awful poll, who thought crippling martial (or any PF2 character) performance in general by making their expected math dependent on external equipment so badly was a good thing, for the rest of my life (especially when your on-level NPC adversaries blatantly enjoy those expected bonuses as essentially ABP for free)...

From my recollection the poll questions were more vague than that. It was more like "do you think magic items should matter" not "do you think high level characters should be functionally helpless without magic weapons"

The developers took what they wanted from that.

I wish we had copies of the surveys, because folks' recollections conflict on this. I recall a handful of questions on the subject, as well as open-ended comment spaces.

Horizon Hunters

This is why I really want to play in an automatic bonus progression game so I can feel if it is any different.

My main experience is PFS and I played 2 books of Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse. Overall all pretty much all our gold was spent on Runes for Weapons + Armors. Then we would save gold so we made sure we had enough money for the next level.

We pretty much had no left over money for any items that weren't bonuses. Even then we could barely even afford on level runes.


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Cylar Nann wrote:

This is why I really want to play in an automatic bonus progression game so I can feel if it is any different.

My main experience is PFS and I played 2 books of Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse. Overall all pretty much all our gold was spent on Runes for Weapons + Armors. Then we would save gold so we made sure we had enough money for the next level.

We pretty much had no left over money for any items that weren't bonuses. Even then we could barely even afford on level runes.

Well, I'm one of the biggest advocates of ABP you can find, but even under the normal system, Paizo did a decent job of allowing character wealth to be sufficient for non-mandatory items. But, magic items only start to become more prevalent after level 5 or more, by level 10 you then have a lot of options and depending on your disposition your character may even be hitting the magic item cap, like my monk did.

What ABP does is allow players at lower levels to invest more in consumables, but once you get a few levels under your belt, things start to open up quite fast, but the best thing about ABP is that you don't need to ask yourself this question: "Am I gimping myself if I buy this fun item now but can't afford my upgrade later?". Not having to worry about the next upgrade is a freedom on its own.

ABP also allows for some impossible builds under the normal system to exist or come online far sooner. Thrown builds are pretty much hostage of returning runes on the normal system and dual throwing (Like Troll from Dota or Draven from LoL, for example) are simply impossible because the costs are prohibitive and the main item for dual-wielding builds, Doubling Rings, specifically prohibits thrown weapons.


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The only thing I ever wanted out of magic items is +numbers to stats. Constant, always useful bonuses. I was actually really annoyed to lose the cloaks and rings of PF1. Buying incremental increases to my character was pleasing in a variety of ways.

Of course, for different reasons, I have since changed my play behavior to 'Drops only' so I try to only play with items that drop and give away cash rewards, which leads to all sorts of weird gear setups.


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Cylar Nann wrote:

This is why I really want to play in an automatic bonus progression game so I can feel if it is any different.

My main experience is PFS and I played 2 books of Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse. Overall all pretty much all our gold was spent on Runes for Weapons + Armors. Then we would save gold so we made sure we had enough money for the next level.

We pretty much had no left over money for any items that weren't bonuses. Even then we could barely even afford on level runes.

Your experience is not mine. I'm in book 1 of Age of Ashes and we are overequipped (we are full of armor runes at level 4). In PFS, it's also extremely easy to get all the items you want and buy a lot on the side.

As a side note, I've seen a lot of players hoarding gold. I think the exponential economy is hard to grasp for some people and they always have the feeling that they need more gold when they actually just don't. Every level, I use all the gold I have and I always find the gold I need just before the "next item".


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SuperBidi wrote:
Cylar Nann wrote:

This is why I really want to play in an automatic bonus progression game so I can feel if it is any different.

My main experience is PFS and I played 2 books of Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse. Overall all pretty much all our gold was spent on Runes for Weapons + Armors. Then we would save gold so we made sure we had enough money for the next level.

We pretty much had no left over money for any items that weren't bonuses. Even then we could barely even afford on level runes.

Your experience is not mine. I'm in book 1 of Age of Ashes and we are overequipped (we are full of armor runes at level 4). In PFS, it's also extremely easy to get all the items you want and buy a lot on the side.

As a side note, I've seen a lot of players hoarding gold that they never use. I think the exponential economy is hard to grasp for some people, so they always have the feeling that they need more gold when they actually just don't because the game gives them the gold just when they need it.

I always say to my players "Gold doesn't give you stats, utility or keep you alive, so you better spend it when you can".

In PF1e this could make sense since most caster players would hoard until they could by the casting stat upgrades as soon as possible so that they could jack up their DC's above the intended curve.

Horizon Hunters

SuperBidi wrote:


Your experience is not mine. I'm in book 1 of Age of Ashes and we are overequipped (we are full of armor runes at level 4). In PFS, it's also extremely easy to get all the items you want and buy a lot on the side.

As a side note, I've seen a lot of players hoarding gold. I think the exponential economy is hard to grasp for some people and they always have the feeling that they need more gold when they actually just don't. Every level, I use all the gold I have and I always find the gold I need just before the "next item".

Oh I actually had better experiences in PFS in this regard. I could normally get one weapon + armor runes quite easy with some left over gold but even then it was mostly spent on skill items. My highest character was level 4 though in PFS.

-I love PFS economy compared to a real adventure. It is nice that all players have equal gold/items. In a campaign someone finds a +1 armor potency rune equips and that player is up 160gp compared to everyone else.

Extinction Curse our group pretty much spent only gold weapons + armor runes + 1 staff and we finished book 2. Not sure why but it just never felt like we had a lot of gold to throw around. I don't even remember buying anything else. We found a lot of the skill items though.

-Not sure it just felt like whenever we got to a certain level for a rune we spent all our gold making sure the Martials had the rune. It has been a long time since we played so it was our first campaign. Maybe we did have extra gold but when we played it never felt like it.

Age of Ashes experience I can kind of disregard since it was rough, players were leaving and joining so gold kind of got spread around oddly.

Maybe we do hoard gold when we shouldn't. It is tough because you basically want to have the runes as soon as you can.

Dark Archive

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My ABP experience is that it's certainly more optimal and allows more of a spread of items, but it's not more fun. Finding magical weapons and such is exciting, reducing them to "everyone gets +1 at level X" is.... not. And this is coming from playing a character who probably benefits the most from ABP as they're a thrown weapon user.

Some groups ABP will work really well for, some it won't, but it's not a one and done solution. If magic items are going to have an impact on the game then there will always be ones people see as 'required', realistically outside weapon/armour runes there's probably not anything required in PF2, most stuff falls into 'nice to have' (yes, even skill items) outside games focused on perfect optimisation.


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I'd be happy to see characters use mostly the same gear from level 1 to epic levels with rare and impactful magic items sprinkled through such that each character might get one or two, plus a life-changing magical event, over their entire adventuring career.

Mundane items should be made interesting in other ways. I tend to favor a system of armor/magical resistances that encourages players to use the right weapons/spells/fighting styles for the task in every battle. Armor should be piecemeal and you upgrade slowly by finding new bits that fit, getting that first upgrade from a padded jack to a shirt of mail should be a big deal in terms of how much better protected you are. Weapons would be upgraded as you become proficient in their styles, so you may go from a slashing only longsword, to one that can be half sworded, to one that can be used to effectively murder stroke. Before these skills are mastered they give penalties almost as bad as using the wrong damage type.

You can have gear and equipment choices be meaningful and give characters exciting new items to find without tying the most desirable magic to math enhancers.


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Richard Lowe wrote:

My ABP experience is that it's certainly more optimal and allows more of a spread of items, but it's not more fun. Finding magical weapons and such is exciting, reducing them to "everyone gets +1 at level X" is.... not. And this is coming from playing a character who probably benefits the most from ABP as they're a thrown weapon user.

Some groups ABP will work really well for, some it won't, but it's not a one and done solution. If magic items are going to have an impact on the game then there will always be ones people see as 'required', realistically outside weapon/armour runes there's probably not anything required in PF2, most stuff falls into 'nice to have' (yes, even skill items) outside games focused on perfect optimisation.

Yep. This was my experience in 5E. My players didn't track gold. They didn't care about what they found unless it had a meaningful effect on winning. And as a DM handing out magic items made the game trivially easy.

In PF2 my players look forward to finding magic items again. If everyone just received the same upgrades at a given level, magic items would not seem special at all.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
If everyone just received the same upgrades at a given level, magic items would not seem special at all.

That's the core mechanic of how PF2 handles magic equipment though.


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Squiggit wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
If everyone just received the same upgrades at a given level, magic items would not seem special at all.
That's the core mechanic of how PF2 handles magic equipment though.

Not really. You can custom build the magic item. It doesn't have to be just a striking weapon. It can be a +1 flaming striking sword or some unique item. Not everyone has to get it at the same level. Usually casters don't get dice upgrades like that with magic items. Their cantrips are already APB.

The end result is magic items feel desirable and don't feel the same as a class feature you receive automatically for leveling.

It has a very different feel for the players and gives the DM some latitude in providing a unique magic item experience.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Not really. You can custom build the magic item. It doesn't have to be just a striking weapon. It can be a +1 flaming striking sword or some unique item.

I mean, a +1 flaming striking sword is still a +1 striking sword. The flaming part is unique, but the rest of it is... a specific mathematical upgrade you're intended to get at a specific level.


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Squiggit wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Not really. You can custom build the magic item. It doesn't have to be just a striking weapon. It can be a +1 flaming striking sword or some unique item.
I mean, a +1 flaming striking sword is still a +1 striking sword. The flaming part is unique, but the rest of it is... a specific mathematical upgrade you're intended to get at a specific level.

Still don't feel like APB. I couldn't explain the specific psychology behind it.

If I was to speculate, it's that players have been playing these types of games for a long, long time have a certain expectation about the genre. Part of that expectation is meaningful and powerful magic items. The way the game did this was to make certain parts of character advancement tied to getting magic items.

I think that was wise to do myself, especially so after playing 5E. 5E clearly showed me that when magic items are not part of the expected math, then adding them breaks the math in favor of the players. So you want magic items to be an expected part of the advancement.

It's really no different than getting a new feat or class ability. It's just a different way to simulate a genre norm of the powerful magic weapon. The DM should describe it and adjust it as needed to make it unique and interesting. The same way he describes some feat or class ability that is exactly the same for each character in an interesting way.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The GMG actually recommends that, as a GM, you pay attention to your party's wealth and make sure that they are generally keeping up with the charts. If the Party is regularly giving away large amounts of Gold and investing in their community/RP stuff, then as a GM, you should kick up the items/have community people give useful stuff to the PCs and generally have it work out. A TTRPG is not a video game. Treasure passed over or given away doesn't have to be lost.

Now the GM needs to make sure that the supplemental wealth feels organic in the way the party gets it back, and I think if you run only APs, it can be easy to forget that APs generally give more treasure than is necessary, but that you still want to keep an eye on it. Heroes that come in stripping their foes and selling off belt buckles and boots might just have the local NPCs spooked that they are only in it for the money, or create such a glut of excess goods that the typical loot starts depreciating in value and the cost of the really fancy stuff goes up.

Just like the trick with enemies and level, and not always having the party fight new enemies that are exactly the same level as the party, but how you have the PCs encounter some enemies that feel too powerful at one point in the game but then serve as servants to a higher level boss, Treasure is meant to work the same way.

The first time you find a +1 long sword, or an adamantine battle axe, it should feel cool and interesting. Then eventually, the +1 swords become something that the PCs shouldn't even really have to bother with looting and selling, as some story based treasure award can easily be adjusted later on to balance it all out.


Unicore wrote:
The GMG actually recommends that, as a GM, you pay attention to your party's wealth and make sure that they are generally keeping up with the charts. If the Party is regularly giving away large amounts of Gold and investing in their community/RP stuff, then as a GM, you should kick up the items/have community people give useful stuff to the PCs and generally have it work out. A TTRPG is not a video game. Treasure passed over or given away doesn't have to be lost.

A game I am in has been doing this pretty effectively. Our campaign is, well, a campaign, and we keep toppling local warlords of various small city states in order to get to the top and face the big bad. We are consistently spending our party wealth on helping restart city infrastructure, and it tends to come back to us in the form of gifts or taxes from the town or two that we directly control so party wealth doesn't really change.

Scarab Sages

The party so needs to know that they'll stay at an appropriate power level of they spend money on RP purposes. It's just a different paradigm that some people just wouldn't consider.

Scarab Sages

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Something I haven't seen mentioned (it's a decently long thread, sorry if someone did mention it and I didn't see) is that the 'required items' no longer take up a huge amount of 'space' on your character.

You no longer 'need' to have a cloak of resistance, as it is attached to your armor so you are free to have whatever cloak you find.

You no longer 'need' belts or headbands of +stats, so you are free to have other belts/headbands on.

All the skill up items are different, so it's not like there is a 'ring of skill up' that you need. Want to be better at performance: Persona Mask. Want to be better at disabeling traps? That's a set of lockpicks. Want to be better at religion? There's a Saranrae Holy Symbol for that. Want to be better at Arcana? Put on this pointy wizard's Hat of the Magi.

The things you only really 'need' are the four fundamental runes, or really only the armor potency and resilliancy runes if you don't plan to attack with weapons. We have a level 11 cleric in our Agents of Edgewatch game and he has armor and resilience and that is it. His staff is a greater staff of healing which he never attacks with and he doesn't have the boots because he has a wand of Longstrider to get him motoring around in his plate mail (he's archetyped primal witch with spellcasting so he can use the wand.)

My bard in that game has . . . like one invested item? Persona Mask? Admittedly I haven't been able to buy anything new in several levels but I still do okay. I'm do for an upgrade.. I have +1 striking weapon

Agents of edgewatch minor spoiler:
It is an exquisite sword cane that acts as it's own doubling ring
and a +1 resiliant breatplate.

And even with that bare minimum equipment I'm doing fine.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
Unfortunately Pathfinder and 3.x do a poor job of this - money spent on story stuff is money not spent buying power upgrades.

meh. I find this to be the responsibility of the GM and has little to nothing to do with the game system or setting. Players shouldn't have to focus solely on boosting their optimization at every turn. All that does is force the GM to boost the challenges in response. First, give them magic items that don't cater to their optimization. Also, don't make every encounter a slug-fest that makes them feel inadequate so they feel compelled to hyper-focus on optimizing.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
...they want stuff

True, but that stuff does not have to be +X armor of invulnerability or +X weapon of ultimate destruction. There is a veritable smorgasbord of official and custom magic that be awarded that does not cause an escalation of the power curve.

IMO, GMs need to apply 'rule zero' a lot more often. YMMV


Ravingdork wrote:
(at least not in the minds of my players).

This is the truth in your post, your players. Not the system's requirements.

Dark Archive

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Lucas Yew wrote:
I'll most likely never understand those "majority" in that awful poll, who thought crippling martial (or any PF2 character) performance in general by making their expected math dependent on external equipment so badly was a good thing, for the rest of my life (especially when your on-level NPC adversaries blatantly enjoy those expected bonuses as essentially ABP for free)...

Hey, I prefer my high level martial to have major source of power as magic weapon rather than just doing more damage because they are high level martial ;P Its rpg thing in general I'd say, you want your loot to feel powerful and not just be extra flavor trinkets(those are nice too, but not if they are only option you have)

(besides automatic bonus progression doesn't allow stuff like saving all your money and buying striking runes at level 2 in home campaign x'D )


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Personally I think +X stuff takes away from the wonder of finding a new magic item more than it helps. They barely feel magical at all, just a stat stick, and one you know you're getting just to keep up. Not a fan. Magic stuff should feel... magical, wondrous, do things that mundane items can't do.


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dmerceless wrote:
Personally I think +X stuff takes away from the wonder of finding a new magic item more than it helps. They barely feel magical at all, just a stat stick, and one you know you're getting just to keep up. Not a fan. Magic stuff should feel... magical, wondrous, do things that mundane items can't do.

As someone that wholeheartedly agrees with you, I can easily see most players loving their +X items because they never stopped to think about them in the context of the game. It may feel great to get that next +X weapon mid adventure and feel powerful, but not stopping to think why this weapon is basically the same as the increase in proficiency your character gets at certain levels or Weapon Specialization.

That's why I like to use the term illusion of choice. Once you see it for what it is, the illusion shatters and it's harder to appreciate these items since they feel like you're just being given what your character is expected to have.

All in all, at least I'm glad that Paizo took it to heart the complaints about magical items not feeling magical and they made a lot of items, specially lower leveled ones, much more interesting than just different routes for extra +X on skills or extra damage.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Yes, I very much favor items that grant new and unique abilities over simple stat increases. They are what allow you to come up with cool new combos, strategies, and ideas; unlike static mathematical additives, which don't really change the way you play the game.

Seems to me PF2 is intended to be much more dynamic than static, at least in play.

Liberty's Edge

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Giving +X items before their level is enough to feel powerful beyond the game's expectations.


I am also someone that prefers unique to more +X. But I also do think that both of them serve a purpose.

+X items shore up the weakness of a class, or make a specialist trully shine. While unique items expand the versatility of a class, or make already versatile classes truly the master of prep work.

I would like to hear what people who play without level to proficiency think about +X items. To see if it's the same as those that play with full level.


VampByDay wrote:

Something I haven't seen mentioned (it's a decently long thread, sorry if someone did mention it and I didn't see) is that the 'required items' no longer take up a huge amount of 'space' on your character.

You no longer 'need' to have a cloak of resistance, as it is attached to your armor so you are free to have whatever cloak you find.

You no longer 'need' belts or headbands of +stats, so you are free to have other belts/headbands on.

All the skill up items are different, so it's not like there is a 'ring of skill up' that you need. Want to be better at performance: Persona Mask. Want to be better at disabeling traps? That's a set of lockpicks. Want to be better at religion? There's a Saranrae Holy Symbol for that. Want to be better at Arcana? Put on this pointy wizard's Hat of the Magi.

The things you only really 'need' are the four fundamental runes, or really only the armor potency and resilliancy runes if you don't plan to attack with weapons. We have a level 11 cleric in our Agents of Edgewatch game and he has armor and resilience and that is it. His staff is a greater staff of healing which he never attacks with and he doesn't have the boots because he has a wand of Longstrider to get him motoring around in his plate mail (he's archetyped primal witch with spellcasting so he can use the wand.)

My bard in that game has . . . like one invested item? Persona Mask? Admittedly I haven't been able to buy anything new in several levels but I still do okay. I'm do for an upgrade.. I have +1 striking weapon
** spoiler omitted ** and a +1 resiliant breatplate.

And even with that bare minimum equipment I'm doing fine.

I mentioned it, but it's worth repeating.

You really only need magic weapons for martials to keep up. Everything else is anywhere from nice to very nice to have, but you could play the entire adventure without it.

I think focusing on magic weapons was an intelligent decision by Paizo. Magic weapons are the most popular item with martial players who all look forward to their trusty magic weapon at some point. I can't think of a time when a magic weapon wasn't the item martial players looked forward to getting the most at some point in their adventuring career.

I have to work a little harder at making the magic weapons interesting in this edition. I haven't read as much on intelligent weapons or been modifying them as much as I usually do.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I can't think of a time when a magic weapon wasn't the item martial players looked forward to getting the most at some point in their adventuring career.

That's a little circular though. We look forward to getting our fundamental runes because they're such an obscenely large percentage of our overall power. Because there's nothing else really interesting or valuable that can compete and Paizo has put such a huge emphasis on these mandatory upgrades.

In games where there's something less centralizing than PF2's fundamental weapon runes (including PF1!) players' interests are likewise more diversified and even when it comes to weapons there's a greater focus on adding cool and useful features to those weapons, rather than everything being a footnote to the almighty fundamental runes.


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Bloviated Gas Bag wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Unfortunately Pathfinder and 3.x do a poor job of this - money spent on story stuff is money not spent buying power upgrades.

meh. I find this to be the responsibility of the GM and has little to nothing to do with the game system or setting. Players shouldn't have to focus solely on boosting their optimization at every turn. All that does is force the GM to boost the challenges in response. First, give them magic items that don't cater to their optimization. Also, don't make every encounter a slug-fest that makes them feel inadequate so they feel compelled to hyper-focus on optimizing.

Deriven Firelion wrote:
...they want stuff

True, but that stuff does not have to be +X armor of invulnerability or +X weapon of ultimate destruction. There is a veritable smorgasbord of official and custom magic that be awarded that does not cause an escalation of the power curve.

IMO, GMs need to apply 'rule zero' a lot more often. YMMV

My players want the power curve increased. They want that magic item to feel like it made them a lot stronger.

I'm glad Paizo kept it that way. Already tried 5E with magic items that don't increase the power curve. It bored my players to tears.

D&D has had magic items as a major part of the power curve since it was created. There was a time when you needed a +3 weapon to even hit certain creatures.

So all these discussions that sound like they're making a point that magic items should be something than they are just fall on deaf ears. Heard that argument for ages. Watched it come to reality in 5E. Learned it was a bad argument and magic items as an inherent part of the power curve is not only expected, but desirable by players.

So the question is less about whether magic items should be part of the math and more a "How much a party of math/power curve?" For me Paizo seems to have hit about right.

Magic weapons are the most popular item I can recall in D&D history followed by stat enhancing items such as the legendary Belt of Giant Strength.

For my personal tastes, D&D 3E went too far requiring magic items as part of the expected math as in the magic item Christmas Tree. Whereas 5E went too far in the other direction of making magic items unnecessary and not part of the power curve which made my players not care about them when they found them or gold for that matter.

In pre-3E D&D I'm not particularly sure how much they incorporated magic items in the math balance. But they were certainly a huge part of the game. Players loved getting magic items to the point some people had bags of them and kept practically everything they found as magic item shops were nowhere near as common.

My players are a little unhappy with PF2 though they do love magic weapons and certain other items, but miss the stat enhancing items of PF1. As a DM I think PF2 is pretty close to a good spot for magic items. I would say the lack of a good advantageous crafting system is missed by a few players from PF1. As a DM I think PF1s crafting system was a little too advantageous and easy to exploit by players, so I'm ok with it.


Squiggit wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I can't think of a time when a magic weapon wasn't the item martial players looked forward to getting the most at some point in their adventuring career.

That's a little circular though. We look forward to getting our fundamental runes because they're such an obscenely large percentage of our overall power. Because there's nothing else really interesting or valuable that can compete and Paizo has put such a huge emphasis on these mandatory upgrades.

In games where there's something less centralizing than PF2's fundamental weapon runes (including PF1!) players' interests are likewise more diversified and even when it comes to weapons there's a greater focus on adding cool and useful features to those weapons, rather than everything being a footnote to the almighty fundamental runes.

I'm talking across every edition, not just PF2.

Even in 5E when magic items were unnecessary, a martial wanted a magic weapon that felt powerful and useful.

Not sure why you're focusing solely on this edition as though magic items being a major part of the game's advancement are not something that has been there since the very beginning.

And most players I've see are not diversified at all. There may be the occasional player who likes to figure out how to make a magic item useful. But most I've seen want their simple stuff that works. Martials want a magic weapon and magic item that makes them more powerful. Casters want some staff or ring.

If you want to make things more interesting, the DM can manipulate the the game as they wish. It is not my experience magic items were any more interesting before striking weapons were added.


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Magic Weapons can feel powerful and useful without being items that are flat-out required to keep up with the game math. Just how much magic items are needed is felt especially early on, where a Striking rune can double the damage output of some characters, and monster math assumes that Striking rune is there.


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The "circle" comes from the fact that players wanting a magical weapon that kicks a bunch of butt is a result of their being a magical weapon that kicks a bunch of butt, which is what makes them feel "mandatory" in the first place - what your character can do with the weapon is just so far ahead of what they can do without it that it feels like a non-choice.

5th edition is where you can see that it doesn't matter if the game expects it or not, players will want the thing that gives a big damage boost just because it gives a big damage boost - it's not needed from a "you can't win without it" system perspective, but it is needed from the player perspective of "I can win more/easier with it, so not having it sucks".

And that's terrible for game feel because it makes the best-case scenario that the GM hands out the powerful weapons the players want because they exist and the encounters get boring as heck because they are low-difficulty as a result of the item not being accounted for in the system math and the GM not wasting time counter-balancing.

That's the entire reason PF2 went with a system that expects magical weapon upgrades and those upgrades coming in the form of fundamental runes that bring significant numbers (which end up not being boring because the system accounts for them), and property runes that add something cool or more damage but not in a large enough way to need the system to account for them too so players can get a portioned helping of that "I'm ridiculously powerful" feeling that drives the want for the big numbers in the first place.


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You can hand players a rusted hunk of junk sword with a legend attached to it, and as long as the game world treats it as important your players will feel awesome for having it. If you then drop hints that it has a great power waiting to be restored the party will end working towards finding a way to restore it.

In a low magic setting, such as an ABP game, this could be an item that comes online at level 15+ and gives a +1 to hit and it will feel game-breaking because it's above what the party is "supposed" to have. It's really on the GM to sell the power and rarity of magic weapons and avoid having the party pawing through the book like it's a Sear's catalog shopping for their next upgrade.

EDIT: Personally, I'd probably have the weapon itself be a dud but have the trial they carried it through grant the character/party some meaningful bonus.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
which end up not being boring because the system accounts for them

Eh? No that's specifically why they're boring, because they're just math fixers.

Because it just implicitly says your character is helpless without their special tool.


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So many people complain about "combats are too easy". But most people forget that players want combats to be fast or even easy. I had an encounter where the party was taking forever to deal with one creature. They straight up complained to me mid game that it wasn't fun for them.

That is what people miss in this type of talk. As a GM many want to give players challenging opponents all the time. But players want to make battles easier all the time. It's why players always try to come up with ways to invalidate encounters.

This is why you need a variety of encounter types. Something that is not as easy to do when everyone has the same stat array with built in item math.


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The math is the way you make something feel powerful and important.

It's why a 9th level spell feels far more powerful than a 1st level spell. It's why a level 20 feat feels more powerful than a level 1 feat.

Not sure why people keep making this argument. The math is the primary way the designers provide the illusion of increased power.

It comes down to preference. Some of you want the increased power not tied to magic weapons, some of us are fine with it tied to magic weapons.

There is a game where the math advancement isn't tied to magic items and it's called 5E. You don't need to even see a magic item. You can use the "rusty sword" with a legend example above.

I know for certain my players won't give a care about a magic item that doesn't provide a substantial and powerful increase in power meaning the math power of the game. That's done with Striking runes in PF2. It was done with a flat damage attack and damage boost with runes in PF1.

If you don't like it that way, easy to modify to your preference.

Just stop pretending that magic items as part of advancement is a problem. It isn't. Just like if they used the APB method, it wouldn't have been a problem. It's just different ways to accomplish exactly the same thing: the illusion of advancement.

My players like powerful magic items as part of the illusion of advancement. Yours may want that less, so you can use APB or whatever modification you think works better for your group and players.

There is no issue other than personal preference.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
dmerceless wrote:
Personally I think +X stuff takes away from the wonder of finding a new magic item more than it helps. They barely feel magical at all, just a stat stick, and one you know you're getting just to keep up. Not a fan. Magic stuff should feel... magical, wondrous, do things that mundane items can't do.

One possible way to handle this: Use Automatic Bonus Progression to make sure the PCs stay within the expected performance range and Relics to provide "magical, wondrous" items to "do things that mundane items can't do." As an option, eliminating property runes (as well as ABP replacing fundamental runes) makes relics even more "special" as the only way to (for example) have a flaming weapon.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Temperans wrote:

So many people complain about "combats are too easy". But most people forget that players want combats to be fast or even easy. I had an encounter where the party was taking forever to deal with one creature. They straight up complained to me mid game that it wasn't fun for them.

That is what people miss in this type of talk. As a GM many want to give players challenging opponents all the time. But players want to make battles easier all the time. It's why players always try to come up with ways to invalidate encounters.

This is why you need a variety of encounter types. Something that is not as easy to do when everyone has the same stat array with built in item math.

This article may still be relevant, even though it was written for D&D 3.x. In short, an increased number of easier encounters (instead of fewer, more challenging encounters) has several effects on how the players approach the game: it reduces the "15-minute adventuring day" syndrome, players are encouraged to expand beyond "the most optimal" choices for their characters, it encourages more of a "cinematic"/risk-taking play style instead of reinforcing "turtling"/extreme caution, and combat becomes quicker so that more time can be spent on the story and roleplaying.


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Some people feel that having a sword that makes you 50% more effective, deals 4x the damage of other swords, and can do things like set enemies on fire, change shape, extend 120 feet, or instantly destroy weaker undead to be magical and wondrous.

Some people do not.

This is their thread.

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